Bad River Chairman Rejects Tactics Used by Protesters in Video and GTAC Security

logoIn a statement to Wisconsin Public Radio,  chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe Mike Wiggins Jr. says he’s against the tactics used by the anti-mine protesters in a June 11 action.

Members of an unidentified group attacked workers at an exploratory drilling site June 11, the day Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) began drilling the first of eight bore holes. One person from the raid has been charged with four criminal counts of theft and damage to property.

Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins says the video is not what they’re about. Their strategy is non-violent opposition. For example, the tribe is participating in the GLIFWC 2013 Healing Circle Run/Walk, from July 13-19, 2013. The run/walk will connect eight Ojibwe reservations in northern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. He explains Bad River’s approach:

For a nation to heal, it must begin with the individual. As a person heals, then that person can help heal his/her family. As a family begins to heal, they can help heal their community. As communities heal, they can help the nation heal. As nations heal, they can help Akii (the earth), our plant and animal relatives to heal. The 2013 Healing Circle Run/Walk is an opportunity for people to come together to pray for healing for themselves, their families, their communities, their nation, Akii, and our relatives.

Wiggins thinks this entire week has traumatized the region, climaxing with GTAC bringing in an unlicensed security force illegally carrying assault rifles in the hills outside of LCO Harvest Camp.

“The semi-automatic assault weapons … was a public relations ploy to try and label the good people of Wisconsin and the others who are peacefully resisting as violent people,” says Wiggins. “It’s a shame, it’s really a shame and no one’s buying it.”

United in Defense of the Water stands with the Bad River Band in denouncing the tactics of the protesters in the video and GTAC, and once against makes a strong commitment to working cooperatively to empower our neighbors in peace and non-violence, and affect change through education that will unite and inspire all people to take action to protect the water.

Press Conference and Walk, Mellen, July 10 4:30 PM Gilman Park

Armed Security Forces in Northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

Armed Security Forces in Northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

Mellen Press Conference and Walk
Gilman Park, downtown Mellen
Wednesday, July 10, 4:30 PM
Contact: Frank Koehn, Penokee Hills Education Project, 218-341-8822

Community leaders and citizens speaking at the Mellen Press Conference will be addressing concerns about the presence of a paramilitary force in the Penokees hired by Gogebic Taconite GTac) to patrol the drill site. These paramilitary operatives work for Bulletproof Securities, a private mercenary firm out of Arizona.

After the press conference, those in attendance will walk to the Morse Town Hall at 402 2nd Ave, Mellen, where a 6:00 Ashland County, Iron County,  Anderson and Morse Mining Impact Committee is scheduled.

The walk is a peaceful event and is not intended to interrupt or delay the meeting in any way.

See a news report about Bulletproof Security here.

Press Conference sponsor: PHEP. The Penokee Hills Education Project was formed to educate the public about risks to the Bad River watershed and the Penokee Hills posed by GTAC’s mountaintop removal mine; to share relevant information about the impact of mining on our economy, health, and environment; and to connect with citizen-led groups locally, statewide, and nationally.

Red Cliff: “We will not exchange our current economic drivers for mining revenue that cannot be sustained.”

Red Cliff Mining Task Force
Press Release
For further information contact:
Tribal Administration

Marvin Defoe, Chair of Red Cliff Mining Task Force

Chad Abel, Treaty Natural Resource Division Administrator

Marvin Defoe testifying in Hurley on January 11, 2013 before the Jobs Committee. Photo: Rebecca Kemble

Marvin Defoe, Chair of the Red Cliff Mining Task Force, testifying about AB426 in Hurley on January 11, 2012 before the Jobs Committee. Photo: Rebecca Kemble

In response to numerous concerns being voiced in our community, the Red Cliff Tribal Council underscores its commitment to review and respond to all mining projects with a potential to impact Lake Superior, tribal lands and Ceded Territories. The Tribe is actively engaged as a consulting party on several proposed and ongoing mining projects through the activities of the Red Cliff Mining Task Force and governmental authority of the Tribal Council.

As announced by Tribal Chair Rose Gurnoe-Soulier, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is opposed to current mining legislation in Wisconsin. The intent of SB1/AB1 is to reduce environmental safeguards in order to recklessly advance mining of the Penokee Range despite overwhelming objections by tribal nations and the general public alike. The proposed legislation poses numerous risks to the tribal lifeway and to the resources that the Red Cliff Tribe relies upon to sustain traditional, cultural and subsistence practices. Substantial doubt exists about whether these risks can be avoided or adequately mitigated. This doubt makes it imprudent to engage in mining activities that can negatively impact treaty protected resources which, once damaged, cannot be replaced.

Degradation of environment for short-term economic gain without regard for long-term economic sustainability is unacceptable. The Red Cliff Tribe shares a co-management responsibility of the Lake Superior fishery with Bad River and the State of Wisconsin to ensure long-term benefits from the resource. This responsibility extends to protection of the established economies of tourism and the fishery that the lake provides. Lake Superior is the lifeblood that Red Cliff depends on for survival. We will not exchange our current economic drivers for mining revenue that cannot be sustained.

Red Cliff is a sovereign nation possessing an indisputable interest in the beneficial resource use of the lands and waters of the Ceded Territories. The Tribe has reserved certain rights guaranteed by perpetual agreement that protect essential resources necessary for the sustainability of the Tribe both now and in the future. No action should place undue risk on these treaty protected resources. The Tribe must be assured that the proposed actions, potential risks and cumulative effects to fisheries, wildlife, recreation and sustainability are identified to determine if any adverse effects will result and that mitigations are adequate.

The state of Wisconsin is undermining tribal sovereignty by not offering appropriate consultation to the native nations disproportionately impacted by the degradation of natural resources guaranteed by treaty rights. It is from this lack of proper consultation that the tribal nations stand in solidarity to protect the largest and most pristine of freshwater seas.

Top: The Penokee Hills, target of the 22-mile mountaintop removal open pit iron ore mine at the headwaters of the Bad River; Bottom: a mine in northern Minnesota showing the same area of devastation mining has caused there.

Top: The Penokee Hills, target of the 22-mile mountaintop removal open pit iron ore mine at the headwaters of the Bad River; Bottom: a mine in northern Minnesota showing the same area of devastation mining has caused there.